I wanted to wait to post this blog after the results of the hearing on Chris Stewart for his hit on Niklas Kronwall Tuesday night. It certainly was a dirty hit and the immediate response of a major penalty plus a game misconduct was appropriate. It was also announced yesterday that Stewart would receive a 3-game suspension without pay, a little over $46,000.
I didn’t like the hit for a couple reasons. Obviously it was pretty dirty; Kronwall had no idea he was there and had already played the puck. But also the circumstances didn’t even lend themselves to that kind of “spirited” play. It was the first period and Detroit was up 1-0…that’s all. This was not late in the third with Detroit up by 5 and Kronwall having already laid a huge hit on Stewart. In that situation, you can certainly imagine a higher potential for a rough play like that.
Nevertheless, Stewart got what he deserved. Kronwall is fine. On to the rest of the game…
I think we saw the St. Louis team that everyone was talking about in the offseason. Having made some very big splashes in the free agent rush, plenty of hockey speculators picked the Blues to run away with the Central Division, but to date, things haven’t been so starry. Enter Ken Hitchcock.
The Blues are now 3-0-1 under Hitch’s tutelage, and their on-ice performance has certainly shown it. Prior to the game against Detroit, Hitch mentioned that “quick, tight defense wins hockey games.” That’s exactly what we saw, particularly on the penalty kill. The Wings had six power play chances and only mustered six shots in total. St. Louis even held Detroit, who carries the highest shots per game average, to only 4 shots in the entire third period. That’s why they won. The Red Wings were never able to gain any traction, and the Blues kept them on their heels. After an unsuccessful second period, the Wings just unraveled.
Tonight, though, is a new story. The Wings continue their California road trip with three games in four nights before coming back to the Joe to take on Calgary. This is going to be a tough trip for the Wings. The Sharks have always had the Wings’ number and somehow manage to find ways to pick them apart. If they survive that, it’s southward to L.A. where they’ll meet the Kings for the first time this season. Look for a battle of goaltending between two of the hottest net minders in the league. Immediately after that, Detroit heads across town to meet Anaheim again. Though the Wings made quick work of the Ducks last time, this contest will probably give Ty Conklin another chance in net. Since his performance has been a bit shaky lately, it is entirely possible that the Red Wings will come back home with zero points, which would be quite devastating to them in the standings. However, if they stick with their game, continue to get pucks to the net, and stay out of the penalty box, we could see some very happy humans coming home for Thanksgiving.